After Donald Trump declared his trade war against China, he set about building a losing strategy. CleanTechnica has had numerous articles about this, including Steve Hanley’s Trump’s Trade War, Round One: China 1, America 0 and my own Trump’s Trade War – Headed for Catastrophe.
One thing Trump clearly does not understand is that trade wars are won by cutting off the competition from its suppliers and customers. This means isolating the enemy. It implies building alliances and cutting the enemy off from its friends. This is something that probably cannot be done by an isolationist country.
Trade wars are not easy to win. The nations of the world conducted a successful trade war against South Africa with a view to ending apartheid. It was not short, and though it did win in the end, it was not easy to win.
What Trump has done in a trade war against China has been to isolate the United States. It is precisely what the Chinese would wish in their dreams, without expecting that they could ever accomplish such a goal.
While it is true that Trump has had new trade deals negotiated with Mexico and Canada, the outcome might have been condemned by Trump supporters if President Obama had achieved it. But more to the point, he has not endeared himself or this country to our trading partners by breaking our word, threatening sanctions against them, and requiring them to alter established agreements.
Now the IPCC report has emerged. It is a product of many scientists of many nations. Trump said he is reviewing it, specifically looking at “which group drew it.” Realistically, he has only two rational options. He can accept the report and admit that he was wrong about the climate, taking the chance of alienating about everyone who supports him. Or he can reject it, almost assuredly alienating every nation that signed onto the report, which means nearly every nation on Earth. (True enough, he may have some whack-a-doodle third option supplied to him by those people who do his policy thinking for him. But whack-a-doodle is not rational.)
The IPCC report is urgent. We must act now, or face disaster. The press, full of stories about this, may actually start to deal with the issue. One story is There Is Only One Energy Future: Firmed Renewables, which appeared in the Australian Financial Review.
Nearly all nations of the world are faced with a monolemma. All arguments impel us to a single choice. Ditch fossil fuels or get slammed by climate change. Ditch fossil fuels or risk illness and death from pollution, paying too much for health care as we suffer. Ditch fossil fuels or continue paying too much for energy. Ditch fossil fuels or face the condemnation of all future generations, including our own children and grand children.
The fact that nations of the Earth have only one choice, and the United States has been operating to thwart progress, is giving China a superbly powerful tool in the war against Trump and the interests for which he is head actor. If Trump fails to start pushing hard to join the effort against climate change, China is in a perfect position to turn nearly all other nations of the Earth into its own allies.
America is moving to become not merely isolationist, but also isolated. And if we are isolated, we will lose.